Abatement district aims to reduce mosquito population in southeast Clovis

By Valerie Shelton, Editor

The beautiful spring weather, with its scattered showers here and there followed by days of sunshine, has unfortunately created an oasis for area mosquitos.

The threat posed by these insects is great—some may carry the dreaded West Nile virus, and others may also be carriers of the Zika virus. If bitten by an infectious mosquito, a person can become very ill and, in some rare cases, can even die from one of these viruses.

To combat the threat of Zika and West Nile, the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District is taking steps to reduce the overall mosquito population in southeast Clovis and other areas of eastern Fresno County—where mosquitos are most prevalent.

Clovis resident Karl Peterson, a trustee of the district, said the mission is the safeguard public health by actively suppressing the mosquito population. To do this, the district will soon be releasing sterile male mosquitos from the University of Kentucky into a few Clovis neighborhoods. Only female mosquitos bite, Peterson said, and when bred with these male mosquitos the females will have larvae that will not survive.

“These mosquitos are coming from the University of Kentucky and they don’t carry any virus,” Peterson said. “They are the same species, aedes aegypti, that carries so many of the nastiness that we here about including West Nile and also transmits zika. At some point, the biologists in Louisville discovered that a sub-genius of this species of mosquito carries bacteria called Wolbachia. When a regular female mosquito mates with one of these released male mosquitos, the scientists at the University of Kentucky have discovered that the larvae that that mosquito lays will not develop. They know that and that is a fact, so we are on safe ground here. Last year, we ran another field test where my son and his wife live between Armstrong and Locan north of Shaw in that neighborhood so releasing essentially sterile male mosquitos in a Clovis neighborhood is not new.”

These special male mosquitos will be released in the area just off of Locan Avenue, north of Ashlan.

“It is a neighborhood that essentially has 122 homes but the property on either side is undeveloped so they are going to try and go door to door and talk, if possible, with each homeowner and put things on doorknobs explaining what we are trying to do,” Peterson said.

Some of the sterile mosquitos will also be released in the Locan and DeWolf neighborhood between Shaw and Barstow.

The total number of male sterile mosquitos being released in these Clovis neighborhoods is approximately 40,000.

Councilmember Lynne Ashbeck said she is thankful for the district’s efforts to reduce the mosquito population.

“I live in the southeast are of Clovis, which I guess is an avid breeding ground for mosquitos and the neighbor behind me last year or the year before was bit by a mosquito, got West Nile Virus and was paralyzed so I have a heightened awareness of it, so I’d be happy to volunteer to work with the district,” Ashbeck said.